The wonderful Hare and Hounds just outside the centre of Birmingham played host to Teleman on Tuesday evening, to an appreciative, mostly thirty something crowd. Firstly, this is a very well thought out venue choice for bands and crowds of this size, very good acoustics, intimate atmosphere and good visibility throughout.
Teleman appear, somewhat unnoticed, through the crowd and onto the stage. This lack of grandeur and attention is a microcosm of the band in many ways. They seem much more comfortable immersed in their music than posturing on stage and engaging in crowd repartee.
The set list is understandably almost exclusively from their excellent debut album Breakfast, but they do treat the audience to a rare B side and a catchy 80s influenced new track. The crowd responds well to the instantly recognisable openings to singles ‘Christina‘ and ’23 Floors Up‘ and the band play pretty flawlessly throughout their time on stage.
Let’s make no mistake, though: the star of this and any other Teleman show is lead singer and guitarist Tommy Sanders. Not only does he own one of the more hypnotic, interesting and distinctive voices, he also demonstrates what an accomplished guitarist he is during several extended energetic wig-outs. This is most notably during ‘Not In Control‘ which whips the largely static crowd into something approaching a gentle jig.
In fact, there seems to be two sides to Sanders competing for attention. While very competent at supporting the synth-heavy serene parts of the act, he looks more comfortable – and in his element – playing the role of lead guitarist in a rock and roll band. I expect album producer Bernard Butler would look on proudly at this demonstration guitar virtuosity.
‘Strangest Ride‘ is a psychedelic number that shows off the synthesiser skills of Jonny Sanders, who throughout the night provides a stunning backdrop to the intelligent song writing and afore mentioned percussion. ‘Skeleton Dance‘ is introduced early and seems to relax the band as they settle into their set and start to engage with the audience. This most recent single conjures images of Belle and Sebastian in its style and delivery.
‘Steam Train Girl‘ is a personal highlight of the night, as the band move through the gears from entrancing hazy pop to full on jam session. This is a band that shows a talent to perform both the stripped back and the more expansive. The gig never meanders, and a well-planned set list keeps the audience guessing. No mean feat when the band is less than two years old and has limited material.
Teleman will continue to charm audiences with both these songs and the promising new ones showcased tonight. As the audience exited onto the streets of Kings Heath, they did so entertained and very happy.
James Van Praag